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Rules of the Road Trip: How to Stay Safe and Still See Your Family

12:00 November 02, 2020
By: Melanie Hucklebridge

Even though the holidays are quickly approaching, government-mandated social distancing and capacity restrictions are still in place. Making your holiday plans has never been harder, but with many people choosing not to travel on airplanes, it is the perfect time for family road trips. Road trips not only limit your interaction with strangers, but they are an excellent way to get to explore places that you wouldn't be able to see if you fly somewhere. Although road trips are quite safe, there are still precautions that you must be aware of whenever you plan a long trip. has some pointers for taking a holiday road trip that is both safe and fun.

Think before you go.

Anyone who travels knows that all good trips require at least a bit of planning. Be sure to check the COVID-19 guidelines for any places that you might be planning to travel to.

Where are you heading?

Everyone knows that the journey is more important than the destination, but it is important to have a destination in mind. While beaches are the highlight of many people's holiday trips, it's important to look at which ones are even open. Staying in the mountains is also the Christmas dream of many, especially somewhere with lots of snow.

Picking a destination also comes with different important considerations, like what kind of things you'd like to do while you're there, the weather around the holidays, and even what the infection rate is in that particular city. No one wants to go somewhere with tons of new cases every day, or to go to places that could be potential hot spots for crowds. In more fun terms, though, it is important to pick what you'd like to see on your way to your destination. Are you more interested in scenic routes, or do you want a route that will take you through big cities? How much time do you want to spend driving? Scenic drives always make for better stories, but if there is a time frame you have to make it to your destination in, maybe limit the number of scenic turnoffs.

Finding good places to stop and rest is one of the highlights of many road trips, whether it be camping or staying in hotels. Not only is your comfort, the amenities, and a lack of bedbugs important, but how is the venue you're staying at handling safe cleaning practices? Camping allows you to have an area to yourself outside, making it a more favorable option, but in case you prefer the indoors, be sure to bring plenty of cleaning supplies. Some hotels and Airbnbs are open now, but it is just as important to sanitize them again when you get there, for added safety. Reading all the guidelines and new protocols for these venues is an important step in staying safe.

Do you have a plan for this?

In any situation, you should always expect the unexpected. While having a contingency plan for every possible outcome, it is important to be able to relax and deal with things in the moment. Now, more than ever, we are dealing with unprecedented circumstances, so make sure you are open to adapting your plans if you must. Sometimes, the most unexpected routes can be the most fun.

Something you should plan for ahead of time, however, is roadside assistance. No one likes being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night if you have a flat or hit something. It's important to check with your insurance provider before traveling to make sure that you are covered if there is a wreck, your car is stolen, or even if you just need some help while you're on the road.

Who's bringing snacks?

Have a checklist or at least some organization system to help you keep track of what you bring with you on your trips. Not only is it important to have things like your car registration, proof of insurance, and even your AAA contact information, but it is important to have things like a car jack and jumper cables.

Portable phone chargers are a necessity in just about any venture nowadays, but if you find yourself in a car with only one outlet and four phones to charge, these chargers come in handy. They also help if you get stranded and the battery in your car is dead or if you can't turn the car on for charging purposes.

For many, the snacks are the most important part of any road trip. Junk food and other fast-food spots are the snacks of choice, but gas station stops might not be the safest option for mid-trip food runs. Limiting your trips inside the convenience stores can reduce your exposure to germs and help you save some money for those important after-midnight fast-food stops.

There are many new necessities that we must carry with us, including masks and hand sanitizer, but it is a good idea to pack disposable gloves, disinfecting wipes, and even hand soap to limit the chances of germs spreading. Not only is soap and a water bottle a good idea for washing your hands without needing a rest stop, but it is also handy for cheese-stained fingers.

Above all, just stay safe and have fun.

As much fun as road trips are, it's important to be safe, no matter where you are. Be sure that you follow all the current safety precautions laid out by the CDC to keep everyone around you safe.

Pay attention to mask mandates in the cities and states that you are traveling to and how the places that you're visiting are handling the crisis. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after touching gas station pumps, credit card keypads, and bathroom handles, and even wipe things off with sanitizing wipes before touching them.

You're most likely not going to have the ability or desire to cook on the road, so if you go to restaurants, consider curbside pickup or have it delivered to your hotel. If you'd prefer to eat out, check for patio seating and restaurants that are practicing strict social-distancing guidelines.

Even though things are hard right now, they won't always be like this. Road trips are a great way to connect with your family and spend quality time together. Be sure to schedule some alone time during the trip because no one enjoys sitting in a car together constantly for three days. It should be a fun experience!

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